A ‘fire pit’ is what it sounds like: a structure to contain a fire. While you can make your own fire pit for your backyard, there are many pre-made fire pits that you can purchase online or in stores. Fire pits come in various shapes, sizes, and fuel types to provide warmth and entertainment to your backyard space. But which types are best for your backyard?
This guide lays out the various types and features of fire pits to help you understand the different options you have when selecting a fire pit. If you are looking for a fire pit, this information is a must-know as you shop around.
So continue reading below to learn more!
When you are done reading below, come back and check out:
👉 Fire pit table conversation sets are a great addition to any backyard. See our roundup of some of the best fire pit table conversation sets.
👉 If you don’t already have one, then you need to get a fire pit heat deflector to get the most warmth out of your fire pit!
Table of Contents
Location: Where can I put a fire pit in my backyard?
You can put a fire pit in nearly any place in your backyard as long as it is safe to operate the fire pit in that area. General safety recommendations for the location of a fire pit are:
- Ensure that the fire pit is at least 10 feet away from combustible material and any structures
- Clear away any overhanging branches within 21 feet above the fire pit
- Do not place a fire pit on uneven ground
- Consult with local regulations for additional fire pit safety guidance
As you identify areas in your backyard to safely operate a fire pit, you should also measure the total area for the fire pit and any seating around the fire pit. If possible, stage chairs and other seating options to give you a hands-on feel of how much space you have. These measurements will provide you with an estimate of how large of a fire pit you can have without restricting your seating options or violating safety guidelines
Types: What are the different types of fire pits?
There are several types of fire pits that you can use in your backyard. The one(s) that is right for you depends on your planned activities and uses for the fire pit(s):
- Fire Pits: As defined earlier in this guide, a fire pit is a structure that contains a fire. As it pertains to this guide, fire pits are pre-made structures that contain a fire off of the ground (note: you can have an in-ground fire pit). These structures can come in various shapes, sizes, and fuel types. Additionally, these fire pits can be used for multiple reasons: cooking, warmth, decoration, etc.
- Fire Bowls: Fire bowls are similar to fire pits, but these are often used for decorative purposes and will typically have decorative inserts (e.g., fire rocks or glass). Fire bowls often come in different shapes and sizes, and popular options are typically gas-fueled.
- Fire Pit Tables: As the name explains, these are tables with fire pits built into the table. Again, these can come in various sizes, dependent upon the size of the table. These are usually gas-fueled.
- Fire Pit Tabletops / Inserts: If you already have a table you love, you can add a fire pit to it with a fire pit tabletop / insert. There are plenty of size and shape options to fit your table. Again, these are usually gas-fueled.
- Chimenea: A Chimenea is a unique outdoor fire pit design. These are typically made out of clay with a wide opening in the front (to place the fuel for the fire) and a chimney on top (to funnel smoke)
Fuel Types: What are the different types of fuel for a fire pit?
There are four main fuel types for fire pits, and these are listed below. The fuel type that is right for you will depend on how you want to use your fire pit and your fire pit options to fit your planned use.
- Wood: Wood is one of the most common fire pit fuel types and is the most likely fuel option used for traditional fire pits. The downside of used wood is the higher amount of smoke created compared to other options. However, wood can be relatively cheap and readily accessible. Wood fueled fire pits are good options for cooking, warmth, and ambiance.
- Propane: This is another popular fire pit fuel option, especially for the fire pit tables and other portable fire pits. Appropriate propane tank sizes (depends on the fire pit requirements) can be easily purchased in many locations. Fire pits that use propane are typically not designed to be used for cooking but rather for warmth and ambiance.
- Natural Gas: Some fire pits can be found that use natural gas. However, these will require professional installation to connect to the natural gas line to your home (if you have one). As a result, natural gas fire pits are stationary due to the need to stay connected to the gas line. However, natural gas is cheaper than propane. Like propane, these are typically not designed to be used for cooking unless it is stated by the manufacturer that the fire pit is designed for cooking.
- Charcoal: While not as popular as other fuel options, some fire pits can use charcoal. These are typically more geared towards cooking outdoors rather than for warmth and ambiance
Material Types: What are the different types of material used in fire pit?
There are only a few common material types used to make a fire pit because fire pit materials need to be non-combustible. As a result, you will typically find fire pits made from the following materials:
- Metal: Most fire pits are made out of metal (steel, aluminum, cast iron, etc.). Two key factors to consider when buying a metal fire pit: weight and rust resistance. Some metals are lighter (aluminum) than others (cast iron), which may limit your ability to move some fire pits. Additionally, some metals are more resistant to rust (aluminum, stainless steel) than others unless the metal has been properly treated. Finally, metal is a good conductor of heat, causing metal will get hot quickly. So take appropriate caution around metal fire pits to avoid accidental burns.
- Stone / Concrete: There are some fire pits built out of stone or concrete. Unlike metal, these are less conducive to heat transfer. But these options are often heavy and less portable than metal fire pits. On the other hand, some fire pits are made of faux stone and concrete, which may weigh less than the natural options.
- Clay: Clay is a popular choice for chimeneas, and it is quick to cool when you are done with your fire. However, clay can easily break if it is not carefully moved or cared for.
For additional information on these materials, see our detailed complete outdoor material guide.